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Not long ago, before obtaining my Finnish citizenship, I needed to apply for a Schengen visa in order to enter Finland as it is a Schengen territory. At that time, I needed to apply for a Schengen student visa as the purpose of my visit was, obviously, to study in Finland, where I got a placement in a College to become a Chef.
The process was simple and straightforward and not much different than the Schengen tourist visa other than a few other important documents were asked (i.e., School acceptance letter). That said, the basic yet most important value we’ll tell you in this post is the fact that you need a basic understanding of the following:
- The purpose of your travels
- You need to be absolutely clear about your itinerary and agenda. Make it as detailed as possible if you’re drafting this!
- Financial stability
- Europe is expensive; thus, they need financial proof that you can travel at your own expense and won’t need to seek work in order to sustain your travels.
- Financial support from other people should also be declared.
- and completion of the required documents
- It is absolutely crucial that you meet all the requirements the embassy is asking from you!
- We advise that you check and call your local embassy and ask for a detailed instruction as to what sort of documents they’ll need from you. Some embassy is a tad different than the other, and depending on where you’re from, the required documents can vary from country to country.
It is important that everyone who tries to apply for a visitor visa should understand that no embassy will ever guarantee you approval making this article about Schengen visa for tourists a mere guideline to walk you through everything you need to complete the application process. However, if you’re interested in staying in Europe for longer than three months with multiple entry visa, read this post – it is rich with information!
Now, read on to learn more about the Schengen visa!
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Table of Contents
- 1 A Complete Guide on How to Apply for a Schengen Visa for Tourists
- 1.1 ETIAS EU waiver visa vs. Schengen visa: Which one should you get?
- 1.2 First thing’s first, do you need a visa to enter Schengen territories?
- 1.3 What is a Schengen Visa?
- 1.4 When to apply for a Schengen Visa?
- 1.5 Where to apply for a Schengen Visa?
- 1.6 How long does it take for a Schengen Visa to be approved?
- 1.7 How much does it cost to apply for a Schengen Visa?
- 1.8 How long is a Schengen Visa valid?
- 1.9 How much is the risk of getting denied?
- 1.10 How to determine which embassy to apply?
- 2 Steps to follow for a Schengen Visa application
- 2.1 Step 1: Determine if you need a Schengen Visa
- 2.2 Step 2: Make sure you give enough time to process your application!
- 2.3 Step 3: Fill the visa application form!
- 2.4 Step 4: Passport and Photo
- 2.5 Step 5: Get travel insurance
- 2.6 Step 6: Flight itinerary and accommodation situation
- 2.7 Step 7:Requirements you need to have prior to the application:
- 2.8 Step 8: Determine which embassy to send your application to
- 2.9 Step 9: Book an appointment to the right embassy
- 2.10 Step 10: Submitting the application
- 2.11 Step 11: Waiting
- 3 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
A Complete Guide on How to Apply for a Schengen Visa for Tourists
A tourist visa serves as an authorization to citizens of other countries for entering a respective country for the sole purpose of traveling within the designated area of the country either on a pleasure trip or while on a visit to their relatives in that country. Anyone holding a tourist visa is exempted from holding citizenship to visit that country or their relatives in that country.
Certain limitations are, however, applicable in case of issue of a tourist visa through the process of obtaining one is far simpler compared to that of a business visa. A tourist visa allows an individual to reside in a country for a maximum period of 3 months or 90 days unless stated differently in the visa. The visa holder does not have the right to seek employment in the country for the period unless mentioned otherwise in the visa.
ETIAS EU waiver visa vs. Schengen visa: Which one should you get?
With the new laws coming and going, EU has been one of the top destinations to visit in the world, and because of that, the borders are tightening up and becoming more strict when it comes to tourist control. With that said, do you qualify for an EU waiver visa or should you apply for a Schengen visa?
Here’s a quick description of what is the difference between ETIAS and a Schengen visa:
- ETIAS EU waiver visa – regarded as a way to tighten the borders in EU, ETIAS is similar to USA’s ESTAS waiver visa, which you can apply online. ETIAS is an electronic system that keeps track of visitors from countries that do not need a visa to enter the Schengen zone. You can apply for an ETIAS EU waiver visa online if you’re part of the 60 countries who are eligible for visa-free entry to Schengen and EU areas.
- Schengen visa – If you’re not part of the 60 countries who can obtain a visa-free entry to Schengen zones, then you would need to apply for a Schengen visa in order to travel to any EU countries that require this specific visa from your country. You would need to apply for this visa before you book your trip to Europe, and below is the detailed guide on how to obtain it. Once you have a valid Schengen visa, you can freely roam around all countries that are part of the Schengen zone (you can see the list below).
First thing’s first, do you need a visa to enter Schengen territories?
It is important to know if you’re a citizen of a country that requires a Schengen visa. That said, you can check it here.
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen Visa refers to a document using which the holder has the authority to freely travel within the Schengen Zone and stay for a maximum period of 90 days in a period of 6 months. The Schengen Zone or Area refers to a group of 26 countries in Europe that have done away with the need for passports and immigration controls at their common borders. Of these, 22 are member states of the European Union while the rests are EFTA member states and the complete list includes:
Several nationalities exist that do not require a Schengen Visa for touring these countries, while others need to apply to pay a visit to one or more of these countries. As already mentioned, Schengen Tourist Visa holders do not have the right to permanent citizenship or a work permit in Europe but can only be a temporary visitor to the country within the timeframe indicated on the visa.
There are also European countries that are not a part of the Schengen Zone but allow entry to those holding a Schengen Visa.
When to apply for a Schengen Visa?
It is advisable that anyone wanting to apply for a Schengen Visa should do so at least three months or 90 days prior to their planned date of departure for the trip. Applying several days before the trip is also possible, but it is always advisable that the embassy is given enough time to understand the application and process it accordingly.
Nobody would want to find themselves in a situation where they have made plans as per a certain date only for their visa to be issued of a validity period that is not within the intended date of travel.
Where to apply for a Schengen Visa?
With so many countries falling in the Schengen Area, it may seem a daunting task to find the correct embassy that will help in processing the documents. However, the process is simpler than one may think. For those people visiting just one of the countries in the Schengen Zone, they are only required to apply through the embassy of the country in their respective country of residence.
In case they have plans of visiting multiple locations, the application needs to be made at the embassy of the country where they intend to spend the maximum amount of time. For this, it is very important that individuals are clear about their itinerary.
How long does it take for a Schengen Visa to be approved?
There is no fixed period, and it depends a great deal on several different factors. Hence it is advisable that the embassies be provided enough time for processing the visa. In some cases, it may take only a couple of weeks, while others have reported having to wait up to two months to get their visas.
During peak seasons, there are a lot of tourists visiting the Schengen countries, so the embassies are required to deal with tons of applications. These are some of the factors that one needs to take into consideration before applying. Also, the application is submitted should be complete so that any unwanted delays are avoided later.
How much does it cost to apply for a Schengen Visa?
The cost of applying for a Schengen Visa will depend entirely on the prevailing exchange rate between the local currency and Euros and is likely to change from time to time. It is also important to note that payments made for a visa are non-refundable. Usually, no fee is applicable for kids under the age of 6 years.
Applicants should also inquire with the embassy if there are any additional charges that they need to pay. The payment is mostly taken in cash, and there is a reluctance among the embassy workers to provide change, so it is advisable to carry the exact amount while proceeding for the application.
How long is a Schengen Visa valid?
The validity of the Schengen Visa is for a maximum period of 90 days. Those planning to travel to multiple countries during the period or having intentions of traveling in and out of the Schengen Zone should remember to mark the “multiple entry” option in the application form. Applicants receiving approval for multiple entries are given a visa valid for six months, which means that they can travel in and out of the Schengen Zone for 90 days within a 6-month period.
How much is the risk of getting denied?
It is not the policy of embassies to make promises until they have checked everything. So, simply completing all the requirements in no way guarantees that an individual will be granted a visa. While the risk of rejection always exists, it is best that they go in with a positive mindset for the likelihood of a Schengen Visa denial are very low unless there are errors in the application process.
Applicants should remember to double-check their applications before submitting, and if everything looks good, they will be in with a good chance of having their visa processed and provided within a short period. This is another major benefit of starting to plan well in advance – in case anything goes wrong, individuals can always turn around with reapplication at the earliest.
How to determine which embassy to apply?
As already mentioned, the application needs to be submitted to the embassy of the country that one plans to visit. So, for someone visiting Spain, the Schengen Visa application needs to go in at the Spanish embassy in their respective home country.
In case they have plans of visiting multiple places, they need to prepare their itinerary well ahead and submit the application at the embassy of the country where they intend to spend the maximum number of days. A person who has Spain, France, Austria, Portugal, and Switzerland on his itinerary with the longest stay in Switzerland should apply through the Swiss embassy.
Steps to follow for a Schengen Visa application
The following steps are the basic application procedure for a standard Tourist Schengen Visa and must be followed closely. That said, it is still advisable that you call your local embassy and ask if additional documents are required.
Step 1: Determine if you need a Schengen Visa
Not every country in Europe is a part of the Schengen Zone, while some of them permit entry to the Schengen Visa holders. There are countries that are exempted from Schengen Visa applications. It is important to determine whether the visa will be required in the first place.
Other than that, it is also good to know if your country of citizenship requires a Schengen visa or not. Here’s a complete list to know if you need a Schengen Visa, you can check it here.
Step 2: Make sure you give enough time to process your application!
Give the embassy at least three months to process your application, and it is best if you apply at least three months before your departure.
Step 3: Fill the visa application form!
This is one of the most important parts of this procedure, and it is crucial that you fill out the correct and updated form. You can download the form here and make sure to fill it out honestly!
Step 4: Passport and Photo
- Your passport should be valid for at least three months AFTER the Schengen Visa’s validity. For example, if your Schengen Visa is valid until the end of your trip, which is May 12, 2018, then your passport’s validity should be at least until August 12, 2018. To be on the safe side, acquire a new passport to avoid hindrance to your application.
- Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages.
- A recently taken passport photo is required, and you can find the correct photo requirements here.
Step 5: Get travel insurance
We can’t stress enough the importance of travel insurance when you’re abroad! It is only natural that the embassy will ask for it as the medical expense for non-EU citizens in Europe can be expensive and will surely break the bank and ruin your trip. So, just to be sure, apply for full-coverage travel insurance and make sure that it meets the Schengen visa requirements:
- Insurance coverage should be at least 30,000 EUR
An insurance certificate should be included in your documents when submitting your application. If you’re interested, you can get a quote from World Nomads for your travel insurance!
Also, in case you’re denied the visa, make sure to ask your embassy to write you a letter regarding the matter which you can send to your travel insurance provider so you can get your money back!
Step 6: Flight itinerary and accommodation situation
- You’ll need a roundtrip ticket to prove your itinerary, and you must add the following details:
- The country where you will enter and exit
- Exact dates of arrival and departure
- Exact flight number details
- You’ll also need proof of accommodation during your stay.
- If you’re staying at someone else’s place, like your friend or a family member, make sure that you write their address and that they write you a letter stating they’re inviting you over to their homes and will cover all expenses during your stay.
- If you’re staying at hotels or hostels, make sure to print out your booking details and include that in your application.
Step 7:Requirements you need to have prior to the application:
Once again, here are the several things one must keep in mind prior to handing in the visa application.
- The application needs to be planned out a minimum of three months prior to the flight. Every embassy has a different processing time and needs to be given enough time to work on the application
- The application form should be downloaded and filled out, preferably without leaving any question unanswered. Along with it, two passport size photographs (recent) should be attached
- A passport that is valid for at least three months till the end date of the visa and a photocopy of the passport
Here’s a list of all the documents you need to have before submitting your application:
- A roundtrip ticket needs to be submitted with the application. Since approval is not guaranteed, non-refundable tickets should be avoided
- Description of the trip, purpose of visit, and complete itinerary
- Copies of accommodation details (hotel or hostel reservations) and a formal letter of invitation in case the applicant plans on staying with their relatives or friends
- Applicant’s proof of employment including a reference letter from employer and approved leave of absence
- Proof of income including current bank statements and income tax returns of the last three years prior to the date of travel
- Copy of authenticated identity proof
- Travel insurance certificate
- Proof of appointment scheduled with the embassy
Once all the documents have been arranged and organized, applicants should make a copy of everything before submitting the originals to the required embassy.
Step 8: Determine which embassy to send your application to
There are three ways to determine which embassy you should send your application to:
- If you’re only visiting ONE country and that country only, then you should send your application to that country’s embassy.
- If you’re visiting multiple countries but is staying the most days of your travels in ONE of the countries you’re visiting, then you must apply to that country’s embassy.
- For example, I’m going to visit France for one week, Italy for one week, Spain for two weeks, and Greece for one week. In this case, I should send my application for a Schengen visa to the Spanish embassy.
- If you’re visiting multiple countries but are staying an equal amount of time on each place, then the first country or point of entry should determine which embassy you will send your application to.
- So, for example, my itinerary goes like this: France, Italy, Spain, and Greece. In this case, I should send my application for a Schengen visa to the French Embassy.
Step 9: Book an appointment to the right embassy
If you think you have all that you need, make sure to book an appointment to the embassy you’ll send your application to and be at your appointment on time!
Step 10: Submitting the application
Before submitting the application, it is important that copies be made of all the documents. The embassy accepts only copies while verifying the originals, so it is mandatory to carry both sets of documents and avoid unwanted repeat visits. The applicant may get called in for an interview to verify certain details, and there is no need to fret over such an incident.
Also, it is important to note that most embassies require that you pay with the right amount of cash! So make sure to bring the right amount with you to avoid the hassle.
Step 11: Waiting
In the end, one simply needs to wait to know the outcome of their submitted Schengen Visa application.
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Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.